April 7, 2017 By Hannah Wulkan
A longtime Community Board 4 member was ousted from the board after she made disparaging comments about undocumented immigrants last month.
Queens Borough President Melinda Katz did not reappoint 30-year veteran Ann Pfoser Darby of Corona to Community Board 4 in the most recent set of appointments for the 2017 to 2019 term, according to a spokesperson for Katz.
Though the spokeswoman said that the Borough President’s office never discloses why an application may have been rejected, the ousting came after Pfoser Darby garnered lots of attention last month for making racist comments at a Transportation Committee meeting.
Following the committee meeting, Darby drew widespread criticism for allegedly saying, “Once Trump removes all the illegals from Corona, there won’t be anybody to ride bike lanes,” during a discussion on adding bike lanes to the neighborhood.
Transportation Alternatives advocate Juan Restrepo attended the meeting, and tweeted out the statement, which quickly drew the attention of local Council Member Julissa Ferreras-Copeland.
Ferreras Copeland sent a letter to Katz requesting that Pfoser Darby be removed from the Board on March 1.
“This is a shockingly racist and xenophobic statement from a public servant. Such comments which are unambiguously racist and morally repugnant will not be ignored nor met with silence or indifference,” Ferreras-Copeland said in a statement at the time.
Pfoser Darby later doubled down on her claims in interviews with several news outlets, telling DNAinfo ““I see who goes by and who doesn’t, and there was a lot of people going by to work early in the morning and like about 90 percent of them are gone,” adding that she took it as a sign that these people have been “picked up by ICE [Immigrations Customs Enforcement.]”
“It looks like they were illegal aliens, I don’t know, I didn’t speak to them,” she told DNAinfo, saying that she could tell they were illegal by the way they dress and speak.
Community Board 4 chair Damian Vargas and Ferreras Copeland got in to a heated debate over the issue on Facebook on March 1.
“While the comments made by Ms. Darby are unacceptable and will not be tolerated by Community Board 4, Council Member Julissa Ferreras-Copeland statement only serves to further a political agenda while further dividing a community in need of bridges and trust of our elected officials,” Vargas wrote.
Ferreras Copeland responded by writing, “As one of the three elected officials responsible for appointing the members of this board, it is my duty to respond when our community is attacked.”
All Community Board appointments for the 2017 to 2019 term were released on March 31, according to the spokesperson for Katz.